Only two weeks after Melissa Bakondy was permitted to imply that Sarasota School Board member Tom Edwards was a threat to the safety of children, citing his sexual orientation. The Chairwoman of the School Board, Bridget Ziegler, again permitted an individual to sling homophobic slurs from the podium at Tom Edwards.
At the Sarasota County School Board meeting on March 21st, Sally Nista took to the microphone to slander Edwards again. Nista, a local Republican activist openly affiliated with the Proud Boys, is a member of the Republican Party of Sarasota’s Executive Committee. While at the microphone, Nista falsely claimed that no one had denied the comments from Bakondy. She then said, “Tom Edwards is who he is… because what Tom Stands for and what Tom wants to do to our children in this school district isn’t what a majority[.].”
Nista stopped short of finishing her sentence only when the crowd began to implore Ziegler to intervene. Ziegler then attempted to quiet the crowd and permit Nista to continue. At this point, Board Member Tom Edwards stood up, stating, “I’m sorry, I’m not going to sit here and allow this,” and promptly walked out of the chamber, followed by a majority of the crowd.
After the last meeting, Chairwoman Ziegler apologized to Edwards, “That was wildly uncomfortable and inappropriate, and I apologize to Mr. Edwards,” Ziegler said. “Just as much as I do not believe anyone’s sexual orientation should be discussed in a classroom or in an office, I do not believe it’s relevant or should be discussed at this dais or in these chambers.” However, it appears that her words were only for show.
“Bridget Ziegler’s inability to prevent slander and arguably support these slurs through her silence is astonishing,” said Daniel Kuether, Chair of the Sarasota Democratic Party. “When the husband of the Chairwoman is championing the Governor’s attacks, and Republican Precinct Captains are given free rein to make homophobic attacks, it’s clear to me where the Republican Party stands.” Christian Ziegler, Bridget’s husband, is chairman of the Florida GOP.